LA Rams Joseph Noteboom suddenly starting LT: Trial by fire

Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

Just reactivated from IR, LA Rams third-year offensive lineman Joseph Noteboom passes a trial by fire

The LA Rams are back to filling starting positions on the offensive line. With time running out in the first half of the Rams-Seattle Seahawks game, disaster struck. Veteran offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth, the Rams star and future HOF offensive lineman, has torn the PCL in his left knee and will miss some serious time.

While there is a chance he could heal up and return for the playoffs, it forces third-year offensive lineman Joseph Noteboom, who came back from IR this week, into the starting left tackle role. Noteboom hasn’t seen much action at tackle. Since being drafted by the Rams in 2018 with their first pick of the third round, he has played predominantly at the left guard position.

Noteboom’s destiny fulfilled?

LA Rams general manager Les Snead was happy when Noteboom fell right into his lap.  That was due to the fact that it was obvious his intent was to align him as the successor to Whitworth. That plan seemed to be out the window with Big Whit’s ability to be ageless at his position, and just as soon as it seemed that plan was out the window, it’s still a possibility.

Even so, Noteboom has had some performance issues. Before he got landed on Injured Reserve with a calf injury, he was the Rams’ lowest-rated offensive lineman.  In fact, per some rankings, he was on the back half of all guards. His teammate, offensive lineman David Edwards who replaced Noteboom during his recuperation, performed better and seemed to be an upgrade at the position.

What about Goff?

Knowing this, if you’re a Rams fan, the promotion of Joseph Noteboom as the Rams starting left tackle should’ve had you terrified.  Quarterback Jared Goff throws from his right side, and the left tackle protects his blindside,  Pressure from the left translates into the offense stalling.

In yesterday’s game, that meant that the Seattle defense did its job and got the ball back to their won quarterback Russell Wilson. As soon as Wilson gets the ball with the game on the line, you know that he’s going to cook. If you didn’t think these things, it’s likely that you didn’t know Noteboom’s history, or you were fooling yourself.

Much ado about nothing

But something happened or rather didn’t happen.  What happened in the game is nothing at all. No sudden implosion by the offensive line. No sudden change of momentum. You see, the sign of good performance by an offensive lineman is to not hear their name called out all game. The Rams offense continued to gain yards as if Whitworth was never injured and never left. That is a fantastic start for Noteboom coming in cold to the arguably most important position on the offensive line.

While Noteboom hasn’t faced premier edge rushers coming at Jared Goff’s blindside yet like Whitworth, last night proved that he has promise. Whitworth might be back this season if the Rams make it to the NFL Playoffs. Then again, he might not make it back. Realistically, at Whitworth’s advanced age for a starting NFL offensive lineman, the game against Seattle may even have been his last snap in the NFL.

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Even if he comes back, how much can his body withstand? He could be well within-his-rights to retire if he feels as if he can’t keep his high-performance level up.  Noteboom could be the LA Rams’ new permanent left tackle for the foreseeable future. Either way, ready or not, we are there. Mr. Noteboom, welcome to your trial by fire. You passed the first test with flying colors.  Just make sure Goff isn’t the one getting burned.